Seven-term State Representative Terrie Wood, a Republican from Darien representing the 141st Connecticut House District, faces Dominic Rapini in the Aug. 9 primary for the party’s nomination to run for Secretary of the State in this fall’s election. The office oversees business registration, administers elections, and works with registrars and town clerks statewide for fair elections in Connecticut.
As the first-born in her family, Wood says she was always a leader who likes being in charge. And, she says, she also brings a unique ability to listen. She is known for listening to people, from any political party, and for trying to understand their needs.
“In the legislature Terrie has always been someone who has been very open minded and conscientious, and has the utmost respect for public service,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora. “She has been someone I have always admired greatly for that.”
In her seven terms as a state representative, Wood has spent three years as the House Republican Policy Chair, six years as ranking member on the Human Services Committee, been a member of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, and a member of the Bonding Sub-Committee.
She has served as co-chair of the Mental Health Working Group of the Gun Violence and School Security Bill, and as co-chair of the MORE Commission Special Education Working Group, served on the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and on the Shoreline Preservation Task Force.
She is a co-founder of The Darien Environmental Group, served as president of the Darien Land Trust, co-chair of the YES, DHS Referendum Committee for a new Darien High School, trustee of The Darien Library and The Community Fund, an ABC host family, member of Republican Town Committee and the Representative Town Meeting.
“I’m a good administrator. I lead a number of organizations and I understand what sound governance and good policy looks like. That’s what sets me aside from anyone else in the race – on either side,” said Wood. “I know how things get done. I’m really good at listening. To me, good listening is when someone tosses an idea out, to ask questions about that. My parents taught me the power of genuine curiosity. I’m grateful for the ability to ask substantive questions: That’s important when you’re developing policy. I love solving problems.”
After almost 14 years serving in Hartford and working with people all over the state, Wood says she listens to people with an open mind. “I am able to rise above a lot of partisan politics because of that. Both sides want solutions, they want honesty and rational thinking.”
Wood has gained respect from her party across the state for her years of leadership.
“I think she’d be terrific in that role. She is a proven winner, not only in terms of being electable, but in all the good work she has done in the General Assembly,” said third-term State Senator Paul Formica, R-20th, former First Selectman of East Lyme.
“She has been able to work both sides of the aisle and has had a very successful career representing her constituency. She brings a level of common sense to state government that will be good to have at the Secretary of State level.”
“I’ve always believed in our elections system,” said Woods, who “grew up in a family where everyone voted. Period.” There were a lot of veterans, and there was always a very patriotic feeling in our family.”
Upholding election integrity is among many things that need to be done, she said. “There’s a lot to do.”
We need to implement a photo identification requirement at the polls, she explained. “Right now there’s no requirement for a photo ID. If you don’t have one, you can simply sign an affidavit. That doesn’t work if you’re trying to get on an airplane, if you’re trying to rent a car, or if you need medication at the pharmacy. “One of the biggest privileges and rights of our life is to vote and uphold democratic ideals.”
More than 37 states require voters to present a photo Id at the polls: We should have one, she said. I also support the absentee ballot process, but I do not support the mass mailing of absentee ballot applications.
She says meeting the people she would be working with in each town tops her list of goals.
“In my first year in office, I will visit every town clerk and every registrar in their offices, so when we need to call each other we will have a face to a name. I’ve visited them already. They are the boots on the ground and the souls of our communities.”
The state needs to replace its voting machines, which are about 15 years old and were meant to last five- to- seven years. The new secretary of state will select the next voting machines.
“They will not be connected to the internet. I don’t believe that is safe or secure,” she said. “They need to be replaced. I’m already assembling names for a transition team to help with that.”
The business interface also needs to be modernized and updated, she said, “When you go in to file, the system needs to function correctly.”
Wood said she would make sure calls are answered when people have questions about business filing. She supports reducing the $250-a-year filing fees since businesses pay tax revenue to the state and “should not have to pay a big filing fee to register.”
In her early career Wood acted in television commercials for major brands in New York. She also ran a portrait photography business. She graduated from Rollins College. She and her husband, Jay, have lived in Darien for nearly 40 years and raised three children. Jay is a third-generation Darien resident and an active member of the community.
On top of what I said about her – “she’s a wonderful person, too,” Formica went on. “She’s a great mom, a great family person. She’s just a kind person. We need a lot more of that in government today. She will be a welcome change – and I wholeheartedly support her.”
“I have won seven elections by wide margins. In a time when republicans had strong headwinds, particularly in Fairfield county, I was the top vote-getter – because people trust me,’” Wood said. “I’m the only one in the race that has the experience. I’ve had seven terms, winning elections by wide margins that included democrats and unaffiliated voters.” We need that. We should have more bipartisan support.
CT News Junkie is running an occasional series of profiles of candidates seeking state office.